The EU and Mozambique met in Maputo to launch negotiations for the renewal of the SFPA protocol due to expire on 31 January 2015. The current protocol, which came into force fully on 13 June 2012, secures access to the Mozambican fishing zone for 43 EU purse seiners and 32 surface longliners. It was agreed that the next round of negotiations would be held in Brussels by September 2014.
Meanwhile, Mozambique Fisheries Minister announced that the Mozambican tuna fishing company Empresa Moçambicana de Atum (Ematum) is expected to start fishing before the end of 2014, following the arrival of the first five fishing vessels ordered from France – due in September – which are expected to catch 1,500 tonnes of tuna per year. According to Mozambican daily newspaper Notícias, Ematum, which is 67% state-owned and 33% owned by private investors, would only be fully operational in 2015, after the expected arrival of another 16 fishing vessels.
This is part of Mozambique’s Strategic Plan for Tuna Fishing Development aimed at increasing benefits for Mozambique. A Mozambican Fisheries Ministry representative emphasised that “of the US$60 million resulting from tuna fishing, only a million stays in Mozambique.” Tuna fishing in Mozambique is currently carried out by over 100 fishing vessels, almost all of which are foreign, notably from Japan and Europe; there is just one Mozambican tuna boat.
As part of efforts to ensure that tuna fishing is carried out mainly by Mozambican operators, the Fishing Minister stated that a total of 15 tuna fishing projects have recently been presented by potential Mozambican and foreign investors from countries such as Indonesia, China, South Korea and Portugal, which also include processing plants. This will contribute to job creation, helping to reduce poverty in some coastal regions, such as the Nampula region. Further investments in the region’s fishing sector are estimated at approximately US$10 million by companies from China and Portugal to catch shrimp, lobster and grouper, for export.
Fisheries relations between EU and EU member states’ operators and Mozambique go much further than the access of EU tuna vessels to Mozambican waters, which is the basis for the negotiation of the new SFPA protocol. In particular, private EU companies are involved in fisheries investment projects for tuna, but also in other fisheries (shrimps, lobster, grouper) to be exported to international markets, including most probably EU markets. Given that the protection of EU private investments in third countries is, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, an EU competence, the question arises whether the EU has a role to play, to ensure that such EU investments in ACP fisheries are protected. This may translate into ensuring that these investments are compatible with sustainable exploitation of fisheries. It could be argued that the sectoral support provided under SFPAs – and increasingly complemented by actions undertaken under the EDF – focusing on improving the capacities of the partner country for developing sustainable fisheries (e.g. research, MCS, support to the artisanal sector, compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary regulations) may help to provide the partner country with the tools it needs to ensure that such private investments do indeed deliver long-term social and economic benefits.